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Archive for July, 2014
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think that might be an understatement.
Officially, it’s spring here in Toronto but the temperature is still well below zero. Old man winter is still hanging on for all he’s worth!
I have no words to explain the attached photos taken last night at the hostel. You might think they’re crazy – because they absolutely are about as crazy as they come!
Now this is just another Saturday night at the Canadiana hostel. It’s not Halloween; it’s not a costume party; it is no special occasion whatsoever!
The attached photo shows just how some of the hostels guests were dressed last night. Others were done up as golfers with knee, socks and britches. If you can imagine these costumes when it’s well below zero outside you’ll understand really how nuts this behavior is!
If you want to know why they dressed like this you’ll have t ask them yourself. We don’t like upsetting crazy people.
Getting ready for the Canadiana Pub golf tournament.
Unfortunately Tiger Woods was uanable to attend, but there was a good showing for the tournament.
Always fun and understanding, Sabine and Tamara.
3 Wonderwomen, a Superman, and a cross dresser celebrating St Patricks Day (three days late),
We call him Si (with a long “I”, not like Spanish for yes) and he’s was a fixture here at the Canadiana for the better part of a year.
If you judge him by his computer skills, Si qualifies as a total Geek. There’s really not much he can’t do with a computer.
But in his personal life he is anything but a nerd. Si was a founding member of the hostels most infamous group – the Canadiana Lager Louts.
Si had to cut short his working holiday and return to England due to a family bereavement. Of the original “Double L’s”, only and Pearcey from England; Matt from Oz; and Doughy from Ireland remain.
It’s coming to the end of an era here at the hostel, The Double L’s have been the subject of several previous blog entries but they were heavily censored.
But of all that wild and crazy group Si is most confusing. He likes to drink, smoke and occasionally curse (as they all do); however, like his fellow Lager Louts, he has malice towards none.
Si was a bit of a dichotomy because his remarkable computer skills contributed to the smooth running of the hostel’s day-to-day business. He’s really missed.
Si is back in the UK right now and he is soon due to depart for New York City; South America; and then possibly off to New Zealand and Oz.
Si has a severe case of Wanderlust. You’re apt to find him just about anywhere.
You’ll know it’s our Si if you take a photo of him because there is about a 90% chance he will be giving you the “thumbs up” sign as you hit the shutter.
Best of luck Si! Stay in touch!
Directly across the street from the hostel is the rear of the Scotiabank Theatre Complex. It takes up an entire city block and houses 15 movie screens; a mega bookstore; a fast food court; a fitness centre; a couple of bars; and two nightclubs.
One of the clubs is the largest in the city (and possibly all of north America) and can accommodate upwards of three thousand with seven bars over four floors. It is enormous and enormously popular.
It is called the Circa and as you might expect as a circus themed decor.
On “special occasions” such as the appearance of a celebrity Disc Jockey, the cover charge can be as much as $60 per person and on regular evenings (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) the cover charge is normally about $20.
It is such a popular club that you’ll usually have to stand in line until they can accommodate you without violating fire codes. That is, unless you are a guest of the best hostel in Toronto – ours, of course!
On Friday evenings the hostel’s event is a visit to the Circa Nightclub. We’ve arranged everything for our guests. No waiting in a long queue for our hostel guests and, best of all, no cover charge!
Emily: she looks so Angelic but with the “devil” in her eye!
There are steel traffic posts across the street from the hostel. They are about four feet high and their purpose is to prevent cars from driving up onto the sidewalk.
One young lady from the hostel decides she will vault over one of them as if she were playing leapfrog.
“Don’t try that.” I say, “You’ll face plant right in the middle of the road!”
CRASH! She doesn’t listen and I called it right.
Meet Emily from Oz. When we say Oz, we really mean Australia; however, in Emily’s case we actually mean “Oz”! Not everyone here is completely convinced that she’s really from this planet.
Emily is young, adventurous, attractive and full of life. She’s one of the most popular young ladies at the hostel. She’s got a great sense of humour and she’s a heck of a lot of fun to be around. As a result, she’s made a lot of friends.
Emily first pitched up at the hostel’s door towards the end of January shortly before Australia Day. Good Australian citizen that she is, she got right into the festivities for her nation’s National Day. She lasted until 3PM; that is, she remained conscious only until then!
Emily has just finished a year-and-a-half in San Diego, California working in Hotel Management. From all reports, that border town will never be the same again!
She’s come to Toronto on a two year working visa and we don’t hold out too much hope that the city will survive her presence unscathed. We’ve learned to expect just about anything from Emily!
The only thing we can be certain of is that, whatever happens, it should prove to be either hilarious, felonious or even a bit dangerous!
(And yes, this is the same lovely, innocent-looking, little Emily who got a ride home from the pub with the Transit Police on St. Paddy’s Day!)
Dr. J.J. and Dr. Gareth with their Advanced Trauma Texts.
“Is there a Doctor in the house?”
When it comes to our hostel. the answer to the above question is “yes there is, more often than not”.
We get a whole cross section of society who choose to stay in hostels while traveling. As well as your average youthful backpacker, we get a lot of professionals. We have had the pleasure of hosting Doctors, Lawyers and even a few Indian Chiefs.
We just conducted a small poll among Canadiana staff members and tried to recall how many medical doctors had been guests at the hostel over the past year.
Including the two physicians from the UK in residence right now, as close as we can recall, at least nine.
These included an Orthopedic Surgeon from England; a Plastic Surgeon from New York; a (female) Neurosurgeon from Thailand; a (female) Anesthesiologist from Germany; a Radiologist from Germany; and a General Practitioner from Brazil.
These figures don’t take into account the number of Medical Students we get; they’re too numerous to count!
The two medicos we have in residence at the moment are from the UK. One is a resident in Pediatrics and the other is an medical officer with the famed Royal Marines.
They have come to Toronto to take part in an intensive Trauma course at a Toronto Hospital because it’s a required course for all physicians working Emergency Rooms in the United Kingdom.
J. J., a Royal Marine Surgeon Lieutenant (soon to be Lt. Commander) has just returned from Johannesburg, South Africa where he elected to spend three months in an Emergency Ward of one of the most violent and dangerous cities in the world. There he saw gunshot and knife wounds – lots of them!
His colleague Gareth is completing his specialty in Pediatrics which, hopefully, will see less trauma than J.J. who will soon deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Anyhow, if you visit our hostel and wonder if there is a Doctor in the house; chances are, there is at least one.
The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, just published and article on the “Hotspots” of the city. Featured prominently is the epicenter of Toronto’s Entertainment District which they peg at the corner of King and John Streets.
That puts it exactly one city block southeast from the hostels front door!
So when we claim that we are located “in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District”, we mean just that! No hostel is as centrally located as we are. That’s a not mere claim; it’s a mere fact!
It’s called the “Entertainment District” because it is home to four of the city’s largest and most prestigious live theater venues and also the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto’s Opera House.
It also contains several smaller live theater houses such as the Factory Theater Lab, Theatre Passe Muraille and several live comedy venues.
The area is also famous (some might say infamous) for it’s more than 70 nightclubs and more than 130 bars and restaurants. The area attracts more than 60,000 visitors a night.
Another of Toronto’s “hotspots” featured in the Toronto Star article is the “Queen Street West” area.
You’ll find this trendy part of town exactly one block north of the hostel.
The Queen West area specializes in trendy fashion places from Goth to elegant wear. Galleries, Interior Design and Antique Shops, New Age Businesses and Head Shops.
Both Queen Street and the Entertainment District attract both the carriage trade driving Lamborghinis and BMW’s all the way to the young club set with tattoo’s and artificial bling.
This area has emerged as Toronto’s most exciting shopping/cultural street; a little like Carnaby Street, London was like about forty years ago only larger and less hippie albeit with residual Goth and Punk.
A lot of eateries also line Queen West from MacDonald’s to upscale Thai, Indian and Japanese restaurants. Along Queen West you will also find dozens of live music venues featuring- rock, blues, jazz, folk, punk, metal, acid – you name it!
It’s also a lot less expensive than the King Street Entertainment Strip just three blocks south.
Anyhow, you’ll be able to find all of this just by “lookin’ out our front door” and walking one block!
So just what is St. Patrick’s Day? Very simply, it is the National Day of Ireland. It is a banking holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in Eire (the Republic of Ireland).
And oddly enough, it is also a public holiday on the Isle of Montserrat and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the rest of Canada, North America and Australia it is not a recognized holiday; nonetheless, they celebrate the occasion. Boy, do they ever celebrate!
Apparently, the first St, Patrick’s Day Parade was held in Boston in 1761 followed by New York in 1762. But the longest, continually running parade has been held in Francophone Montreal (of all places) where it has been an annual event since 1824!
You don’t actually have to be of Irish heritage to celebrate he occasion. At the hostel, Backpackers usually wear something green then retire to a pub to drink green beer and generally abuse their livers.
This year the hostel arranged a trip to a three story University crowd pub called the Madison. It is a little out of the way being close to he trendy movie star frequented Yorkville area of Toronto. From all reports it was quite an evening.
A young lady who shall remain nameless (actually it was Emily, from Oz) got a little tipsy; a lot lost and was driven back to the hostel by the Transit Police!
I asked her what happened and she said she got lost on the Subway and started to cry (she was bawling, actually). The subway personnel were more than helpful (I’m sure her Aussie accent helped tremendously) and called the Transit Cops who drove her home.
Anyhow, just another St. Paddy’s Day here at the Canadiana.
Rocco from South Africa and Kelly from Oz pretending to be Irish.
Sally and Kelly (both from Oz)
Sally, Emily and Kelly – all from OZ!
Lourens (from South Africa); Doughy from Ireland; and Matt from Oz.
At this time of the year the weather can be like this……..or
like this………sunny, warm, and pleasant.
Next Thursday, according to Environment Canada. is the “official” first day of spring. We’ve had a savage winter. Good news? Hold your horses.
In Canada there is a vast difference between the “First Day of Spring” and the “First Spring Day”. Typically, in Eastern Canada, about 10% – 15% of our annual snowfall comes after the first day of spring. In the west, it is not uncommon for huge snowstorms to occur as late as May.
Climatologists at Environment Canada have predicted the first month of spring will be less temperate right across the continent with colder than normal temperatures persisting on the Atlantic Coast and Western Canada well into May.
Only Ontario and Southern Quebec will see warmer temperatures by then.
On the really bright side, the days are getting longer and people should start feeling better for that. But the first official week of spring in Ontario and Quebec promises to anything but “springlike”.
The lingering effects of La Nina (the cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean) are blamed for this long drawn out winter; it’s the coldest in 12 years. It feels doubly long because last year we had only six weeks of wintry weather.
Until this year, recent winters have been quite mild and last year at this time we saw temperatures in the mid-teens and people were arranging tee off times.
This year, however, people are still waxing their skis!
Toronto is one of the premiere places for stand-up comedy. Since the Canadiana of all the hostels in Toronto is located in the heart of the city’s Entertainment District, there are at least five comedy venues within three blocks of our front door.
The most famous would be “The Second City” – a comedy troupe that began in Chicago almost fifty years ago. That Chicago group has spawned such comedy stars such as Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Avery Schreiber, David Steinberg, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Chris Farley.
Second City (meaning not New York) theaters and training centers or traveling troupes have sprung up in several north American Cities such as Toronto, Detroit, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Edmonton and London, Ontario.
Toronto was the second troupe and training center founded in 1973. The training center is one block from the hostels front door and the theater is less than two blocks away.
For turning out comedy superstars, the Toronto troupe has done, at least, as well as Chicago. Comics who started at Second City, Toronto include: Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Mike Meyers.
On Wednesday nights the hostels “event” is a trip to the Second City Theater (less than two blocks from our door) at 9:30 PM for drinks and to watch the troupe perform “improv” comedy. There is no cover charge and the show lasts about 45 minutes.
If you want to see the full show the theater’s latest offering is the sketch comedy show “Tazed and Confused” which opened to rave reviews. The show is performed six nights a week at 8:00 PM (except Monday) and tickets are $23? or $28 weekends.
We’re always talking about the “events” we put on at the hostel. Since Hockey is Canada’s National Sport we get tickets to the games played at Toronto’s Ricoh Center. It’s considered the fastest game in the world and it’s not a sport for the timid.
Toronto is home to the Maple Leafs, the most successful franchise in all of the National Hockey League (NHL) in terms of revenues and and fan support. Just imagine their success if they were a winning team – which they are not!
But a ticket to an NHL game at the Air Canada Center can run upwards of $150 and can only be purchased from unscrupulous “scalpers” since every Maple Leaf home game is sold out. It really is cost prohibitive for the average backpacker.
The Toronto Marlies are a professional hockey team with the American Hockey League. It is what is known as a “farm team” for the Maple Leafs. Should a Maple Leaf player be injured (which happens a lot in hockey) or fail to perform (which happens a lot with the Leafs); he is replaced by a Marlie called up to the NHL team.
You will see a lot of NHL “Scouts” with laptop computers prowling the arena at game time evaluating the performances of the players. And players are all waiting for their shot at the NHL where the multi-million dollar paychecks are. Unlike the bottom dwelling Maple Leafs of the NHL the Marlies are leading their division in the AHL!
As a result, the AHL is the place to go to watch fast, exciting, hard-hitting games punctuated by the occasional fist fight.
The athletes play their hearts out for their chance at the “big time”. A ticket is a mere $18 and the fans are the winners as a result.
At the Ricoh Arena waiting for the “war” to begin.
Pearcey with the Marlies Dance Team.